Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Triviality-How I Have Changed Over Time...

I subscribe to Dave Bruno’s blog since I stumbled on his “100 Thing Challenge.” A few weeks ago he posted 10 ways that he has changed over time. I decided to do the same—read on and then participate yourself. How have you changed over time?

1. Once I spent most of my time shopping, now I hardly shop at all.
2. Once I never exercised beyond walking to and from my car at Walmart, now I exercise daily.
3. Once I laid out at the pool most of the summer, now I can’t stand to lay out and you can tell.
4. Once I thought it was important to be right, now I think it’s more important to admit being wrong.
5. Once I love McDonald’s Big Mac’s, now I haven’t eaten one in years.
6. Once I swore my kids “would never”… now I know they probably will.
7. Once I couldn’t sit still in church…wait…that one hasn’t changed.
8. Once I cared about religion, now I care about the relationship.
9. Once I read two to three books a week, now I am lucky if I read one every two weeks (this really has got to change).
10. Once I never watched much television, now I watch too much.

If I could steal one from Dave Bruno, it would be his last “Once I cared about being successful. Now I care about being influential”. That would be my ultimate goal...

Monday, September 29, 2008

At Three Years...

“Grief is the price you pay for loving someone.” Zig Zigglar

This is where I find myself. Three years has past and the grief still remains. Not in the same form or intensity that it has been in the past, but it remains a part of who I am, most likely in one way or another it always will be. I will visit Don’s grave today and especially honor his memory, but more than that I want to remember to pay tribute to his legacy.

I can’t believe it has been three years since Don was with us. The saddest part for me is the fact that I know other people probably won’t remember the actual day Don died. I don’t expect them to really. It is simply sad.

The brightest part for me is that we still speak of Don often, look at old photos and hold on tightly to the memories. We even laugh at things we know he would have found funny.

So many little things still remind me of Don. Things like every time I hear someone say, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” or when Mythbusters comes on; when I see a Martin guitar or when I drive by a golf course. There is sadness in my heart, but I smile at the memory.

In a strange way, even my ability to remarry speaks volumes to Don’s legacy. It is because our love was so complete that I am able to love again. It is also his example of how to love that lives on in his sons—their future wives will be so fortunate. Yes, grief is the price you pay for loving someone and we will pay it---gladly because the love was worth it.

In loving memory:

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The 1,000,000 Word Assignment

I spent my weekend reviewing an assignment that I gave to the parent’s of my students:

1,000,000-word assignment

I have read over 100 responses from parents who grasp the importance of introducing their child to me. The writings I received were as diverse as those writing them. I acquired compositions, poems, lists and even one 1200-word essay. Each response I read revealed the best qualities of their children, some that I may never have been aware of had I not had this “heads-up” from a parent. Often I found my eyes tear up at the beautiful words written by loving parents.

As I read each essay, it reinforced my belief that every child deserves to be perceived as their parents perceive them. Through these essays, I gained immeasurable insights into the children who visit my classroom each day. I know that I have always had my student’s best interest at heart, but it wasn’t until I had children of my own go through the education process that I “got” how important it is to reach those unreachable students. Many times these are difficult students who are often treated with disdain because of learning or behavior challenges. It was through parenting my own children and having to personally deal with educators who were inflexible, seemingly callous, and downright an obstacle to the learning process, that I realized how detrimental this type of teacher is to the profession. If your goal as a teacher is to engage students, how is it possible to do that without taking the whole child into consideration?

It is funny how when an idea or value comes to mind, it is often reinforced with something you are reading. While reading Brenda Dyck’s book “Rebooting of a Teacher’s Mind”, I was reminded of the times in my own life when home and school collided. It is because I have personally experienced these dilemmas that my classroom practices have been modified over the years. Life experiences like…,
¸ coming home late from work to a house that needs cleaning, laundry that needs to be tended to and a son with two hours of homework.
¸ helping my child with assignments or projects that had little to no direction from the teacher.
¸ the inability to help my child study for a test because I was just too exhausted to do so..
¸ single parenting….this is a huge one. I never understood how difficult this alone can be until I was one.
¸ rushing to get out the door in the morning and forgetting to sign something the kids needed for school.

There is no “child-mold” or a one-size-fits-all template for children. As I teach, I try to remember that each child in my classroom is someone’s prized possession. If naughty Nick were my child, how would I want a teacher respond to him, teach him or prepare him for life? All I know is that my role as a parent requires me to not only be the disciplinarian, but more often I am the encourager, organizer, manager, listener, and cheerleader for my children. It seems these are also perfect roles of a teacher. Who wouldn’t want this type of person interacting with their child every day?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tuesday Triviality!

Check out this article about social networking---leave your comments afterward:

Brave New World of Digital Intimacy

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Musings From the Finish Line

This morning Kent and I ran in a local 5K race benefiting the animal shelter. Our dogs came along and ran with us. It was a nice, low-keyed race for my first one. My goal from the beginning was to simply run the whole way (no walking) and to finish. Well, that I accomplished. I came in last, but attained my personal goals. Ironically, I ended up getting a medal anyway, as there were only three women in my age division. I took this as a gift from the running gods as a memento of my day.

Looking back, I am amazed at my journey from couch potato to runner. My best friend, Ginny started running earlier this year. We have always enjoyed the same things, but thought this would be the one thing I could never share with her. Kent runs as well, but I looked on it as a “guy thing”. Both Ginny and Kent encouraged me, challenged me and even pushed me to at least entertain the idea that I could be a runner. In early July, I ran out of excuses and decided to give running a try.

When I started, I couldn’t run to my mailbox. I remember the sense of accomplishment at each milestone; 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles and finally 5K. I would call Ginny just to tell her I had reached the next goal.

Signing up for my first race was just the motivation I needed to get up every morning and train. I was hopeful that losing a little weight would be a natural byproduct of taking this healthy step forward, but as of today—I haven’t been THAT lucky. I found inspiration through reading (of course, my precursor to anything) “No Need for Speed” by John Bingham and “Slow, Fat, Triathlete” by Jayne Williams. Taking advantage of the tools for training, searching for inspiration and the encouragement I received enabled me to attempt something I never thought I could.

As I crossed the finish line today with cheers from those who finished before me, I thought of the students in my classroom who never have the opportunity to feel the victory of “stepping across the finish line” academically. They attempt to maneuver their way through school dodging obstacle after obstacle in their path. They don’t know how to “train” or they lack the motivation to do so. They don’t seem to have anyone in their lives to encourage them, push them or believe in them. Yet, we expect them to perform on the same level as those students fortunate enough to not only have one, but all of those affirmations in their lives.

Is it true students have to “want” to learn for us to reach them, OR can their reluctance to learn be overcome by not only offering the “tools” to “train” but engaging instruction as to how to us them? Do they merely need someone to believe in them, encourage them and push them? I realize this seems oversimplified, but is it? Nothing to do with becoming a runner has been easy. To this day, I don’t necessary like it, but today I feel like a runner. Perhaps not in an accomplished athlete’s eye, but in my own and in those who care about me. By the same token, reluctant students may feel the same—nothing about school is easy, but hopefully through dedicated teachers, encouraging parents and “training” they can feel the satisfaction crossing over the finish line can bring.